Miwa Matreyek crouches on her knees while a hologram projects a miniature human building a wooden hut on her back under the moonlight sky, while tree trunks protrude from her body.
The performance, entitled Infinitely Yours, explores the symbiotic relationship between humans and their respective environments, and analyzes the effects of climate change on humanity.
“Much of the inspiration came from news article headlines about climate change that I’d been seeing in the last few years,” Matreyek said in an interview with Broadway World Los Angeles. “I was imagining up ways to create a metaphorical version of the headlines. A giant body emitting trash in a landfill. A figure reaching in to the ground and pulling out oil.”
Matreyek’s show in November kicked off MDC Live Arts environmental series, entitled ECOCultura: Performances for the Planet. The year-long series uses theater, dance and music to spark dialogue about the planet’s climate crisis.
“[It] centers on the arts as a catalyst for social change by engaging audiences in the discourse, building alliances with local partners and activating pathways for MDC students to lead the way in climate advocacy,” said Kathryn Garcia, executive director for MDC Live Arts.
Upcoming shows include writer and environmental activist Josh Fox’s The Truth has Changed, a one man performance at the MDC Live Arts Lab at Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. 2nd Ave., on the first floor of building 1 from March 12-21. Times are available at mdclivearts.org/events/josh-fox/.
The performance will feature him at times dancing around with an umbrella in his hand or talking to the audience with a microphone. It’s meant to invoke an open discussion about climate issues such as melting glaciers in the Arctic, fracking and devastating hurricanes.
In April, the series will launch ECOCultura Fest at Virginia Key Beach to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Artists and activists will present live performances, community-led discussions and art installations.
“It’ll be a way to get in touch with the community and discuss how the arts can get involved and make a change,” Garcia said.
National Water Dance, a local dance ensemble, will showcase a movement choir dance routine that members will perform in several locations around the country the day of the festival. Their routine aims to confront water shortages in the United States.
“[Climate change is] the most important issue of our time, nothing really matters against the fact that the earth is changing unless we do something immediately,” said Dale Andree, founder and director of National Water Dance. “Students are the next generation, they are the next leaders. We depend on them to take the reign where our present leaders aren’t. They are our hope.”
The series also inspired Enviroslam, a slam poetry contest for college students to raise awareness about climate change. MDC Live Arts hopes to have each campus participate. The winners from each campus will face off at ECOCultura Fest.
Ideas for ECOCultura came last spring semester because Garcia felt an urgency to display the climate crisis through an artistic lens.
“I was motivated by what we do as an arts institute and knew we could mobilize positive change,” Garcia said.
She began working with the Earth and Ethics Institute to find six local artists that could transmit those messages to a larger audience. The artists, who have yet to be announced, will have their work presented during the upcoming season.
“ECOCultura offers the opportunity to highlight and recognize the current environmental challenges we are facing, not only in Miami, but in the world,” said Maria Montoya, MDC Live Arts digital marketing specialist. “[ECOCultura] empowers MDC students as a college and community leaders to live a more sustainable life.”
Performance schedules are available at mdclivearts.org/up-next/. For more information, contact MDC Live Arts at (305) 237-3010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.